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The Department of Health did not indicate to the Medical Independent (MI) which candidate it expects to vote for, however a spokesperson said Ireland wants someone who could build “a fit-for-purpose WHO”.
Six candidates from Europe, Africa, and Asia are in the running to become the next Director-General of the WHO. They are: Dr Sania Nishtar, Pakistan’s former health minister; Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Ethiopia’s former health minister; Dr Philippe Douste-Blazy, a former health and foreign minister of France; Dr Flavia Bustreo, the WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Family, Women’s, and Children’s Health from Italy; Dr David Nabarro of Britain; and Dr Miklós Szócska, a former health minister of Hungary.
“The election of the Director-General of the WHO is by secret ballot. This facilitates the conduct and management of sensitive international relationships. It is not normal practice to publicly indicate who we will vote for or have voted for in United Nations/WHO elections,” a Department spokesperson told MI.
“The Executive Board of the WHO, of which Ireland is not a member, will vote in January 2017 to reduce the field of candidates to three. Ireland’s vote will only come after the list of candidates has been reduced to three.”
This will happen during the World Health Assembly in May 2017, at which the election of the Director-General will take place.
“Following consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Minister for Health decides who Ireland votes for in this process. Ireland’s vote will be deployed with a view to maximising our international influence and our capacity to represent and advance the values and concerns of our people. We would want to see a strong and effective candidate capable of building a fit-for-purpose WHO.”
The Department of Health will be represented at the World Health Assembly in May 2017.
Dr Margaret Chan is the current Director-General of WHO and was first appointed by the World Health Assembly in November 2006